I was excited to see a new beauty salon opening up in my neighborhood, steps from my apartment. Manhattan isn’t starving for salons, but this one looked like it was going to be worlds more inviting than a typically pretentious NYC salon but still have talented colorists and stylists.
The signage was simple and classy, the furnishings looked comfortable and the size of the salon was just right. Three leather club chairs sitting in front of mirrors indicated there would be only a few stylists, at most. I’ve been going to overpriced, over-the-top, over-rated salons for decades and never stayed loyal to one for more than a handful of years, so I decided I’d give this one a try. I’ve got nothing to lose. It’s close to home and the price list in the window revealed a cut and color would cost about one-half of what I now pay. It’s called Lexington Avenue Coiffure, and it bills itself as a “Salon For The Family.” That’s not one bit uppity.
Well, I went this morning and it was a delightful experience. The Frenchman who owns the salon, Alexandre Benharroche, recently relocated from San Francisco because he’s engaged to a woman who lives in New York (turns out she’s Betsy Hilfiger, Director of Community Affairs for the Tommy Hilfiger Foundation, and sister of, you guessed it, Tommy.)
Frank Vazquez, who colored and cut my hair, did an excellent job. He also works in the film industry, most recently as the key stylist on Eat, Pray, Love. How especially wonderful that these people, who are among celebs all the time, are so real.
My mom used to go with my aunt Helen to a neighborhood salon every Thursday night in the fifties and sixties in Queens. Mario did her hair. Between visits, she wouldn’t touch it, which always seemed curious to me. Dad and I would pick her up around 9 pm and order pizza to take home from the restaurant next door, coincidentally named Mario’s.
I’ll never forget those excursions, especially on bitter cold winter nights. The salon, the thin pizza smothered with fresh garlic, dad. It was a little piece of security for me. Maybe that’s why I liked the new salon in my neighborhood so much.